Last Lawrence police shootings were in 2014, 2006; one was fatal

photo by: Nick Krug

Zachary Ortiz sits between his counsel during his sentencing on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016 in Divison VI court room at the Douglas County Law Enforcement Center. Ortiz was found guilty on July 22 of one felony count of aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer after he leveled a loaded shotgun at Lawrence police officer Skyler Richardson.

Until this week — when an officer shot and wounded a man after a traffic stop escalated into a physical fight — it had been four years since the Lawrence Police Department had an officer-involved shooting.

The department’s last officer-involved shooting occurred in 2014, Sgt. Amy Rhoads, department spokeswoman, confirmed. Before that the department had not been involved in one since 2006, the Journal-World previously reported.

In the early-morning hours of June 23, 2014, then-24-year-old Zachary Ortiz aimed a loaded shotgun at an officer who — after ordering Ortiz, who was drunk, to drop the gun multiple times — then shot Ortiz in self-defense, the officer later testified. The officer had initially responded to Ortiz’s home in the 1100 block of Kasold Drive to investigate a report of shots being fired there.

Ortiz recovered and was later convicted of one count of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer. In July 2016, Ortiz was sentenced to prison and, according to Kansas Department of Corrections records, has since been released.

In that case, the Lawrence Police Department released the names of Ortiz, the officer who shot him and the other officer involved, who arrived as backup, the day after the incident.

In September 2006, 36-year-old Marsha Mace was suicidal and trying to get officers to kill her, according to the newspaper’s account at the time.

The incident happened at Mace’s father’s home, a trailer in the 100 block of North Michigan Street, where Mace was alone. An officer first went there at the request of Mace’s mother, who was concerned about her well-being, and the incident turned into a four-and-a-half-hour standoff.

Police at the time said Mace had threatened suicide and fired two gunshots inside the trailer throughout the day before emerging with a small revolver and firing at two officers, one of which returned fire that killed her.

In that case, the department released the name of the officer who shot Mace within a week of the incident, after the department completed its internal review.

At the time of Mace’s death, the Journal-World reported that it had been more than 10 years since the Lawrence Police Department’s last officer-involved shooting.

The most recent Lawrence police shooting happened about 5:10 p.m. Tuesday in the 100 block of West Sixth Street. A traffic stop for a seat-belt violation evolved into a physical fight between the driver and the officer, and a backup officer shot the driver, according to information released so far by the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the incident for Lawrence police. The man was hospitalized in stable condition after the incident.

— I’m the Journal-World’s public safety reporter. Reach me by email at or by phone at 785-832-7187. I’m also on Twitter, @saramarieshep.


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